Welsh wildlife experts have welcomed measures to crack down on the reckless use of jet skis.
New laws will come into effect on March 31 to help tackle the ‘dangerous misuse’ of vehicles off the UK coast.
Springwatch host Iolo Williams said the reckless bikers, who he has seen endangering seabird life, needed to be “brought to the task”.
But some have called for tougher measures, including mandatory training and licensing for water scooters.
The new legislation will give the Maritime and Coastguard Agency greater powers to prosecute reckless motorcyclists, which could see them face up to two years in prison and an unlimited fine.
‘I’ve seen jet skis go past seabird colonies… this is completely unacceptable,’ said television naturalist Mr Williams.
“My friends who are good naturalists have seen them chasing dolphins and porpoises, it just can’t go on and we need tougher regulations and the people who do that are being put to work,” he added.
While Mr. Williams would like to see licenses to operate jet skis, he thinks the new laws are a step in the right direction, but only if they are enforced.
“What often happens is they introduce these new laws and all that happens is they get a small fine or they get released. The key here is that it’s monitored and policed properly,” he said.
“Why are you allowed to have a powerful machine with no training, no license, no nothing and you can go overboard and do whatever you want? There have been deaths before, and there will still be.”
‘Dolphins terrified of noise’
Frankie Hobro, owner and director of Anglesey Sea Zoo, has seen firsthand the impact jet skis have on wildlife, including seabird colonies, seal colonies, and pods of dolphins and porpoises.
She said she’s glad the legislation is on the way, but is calling for tougher measures, including a licensing and training program, similar to motorcycles, and the creation of no-go water scooter areas.
She said: ‘I sat on the shore watching porpoises and dolphins, happily doing their thing, calm, relaxed, happy, then suddenly I totally freaked out and disappeared.
“They are terrified of noise, they can feel the vibrations underwater long before you see the jet skis coming, but they know it.
“They definitely have a negative impact, through noise disruption of their habitat.”
Ms Hobro added: “Some Jet Skiers have been known to get too close to seal coves, the area where they hang out in groups, on rocks out at sea.
“Seals can sometimes be quite difficult to spot from a distance. Jet skis, either deliberately or accidentally, can get too close to colonies. Scared seals freak out and jump back into the water, and these are big animals.
“There are also risks for Jet Ski users, a lot can happen to people at sea and it’s not always easy to get help where it may be.”
“It’s like putting anyone on a motorcycle”
Arfon’s MP Hywel Williams has campaigned on jet skis and introduced a bill in parliament in 2020 seeking to regulate their use by introducing a UK-wide licensing scheme.
Ms Hobro added: “I agree with what Hywel Williams is saying. I am delighted that these new laws have been introduced but I think we need more regulation.
“As with motorcycles, I think there should be some sort of training, test or license that Jet Skiers should do before going out to sea.
“As it stands now, anyone can get on a powerful Jet Ski and go, it’s like letting someone get on a motorcycle and go.
“I also think they should introduce designated and contained seaside recreation areas or areas for Jet Skiers to go to.”